We are lucky to live in the Carolina Piedmont. There is such diversity in the flora and fauna that grow in our region. Our property has an abundance of hickory trees. You can, of course, use the wood to make a good fire to keep you warm when the blustery winter winds start to blow, but my favorite part of the hickory tree is the nut.
Have you ever tasted a hickory nut? They are buttery and sweet. Our forest floor is littered with the nuts right now. We gathered them in sacks and sat by the fire last week to shell them.
Getting to the actual nut meat is a bit tough because the shell is hard, but with a little effort, you are rewarded with a delicious treat that many have never had the pleasure of tasting.
When I was ten years old, my family moved to Pigeon Forge, TN. I was taken with the area and wanted to learn as much as I could about the Smokies. I remember picking up a magazine about Gatlinburg and reading about the people of Cades Cove harvesting hickory nuts.
The magazine gave a recipe for a hickory nut cake in which I cut out. I enlisted the help of my granddaddy to help me procure a cup of hickory nut meats and to celebrate our success; I baked the cake.
It was slightly sweet, and it had a faint hickory flavor to it. I remember my grandfather proclaiming it delicious. (That was a big deal for a 10-year-old girl)
I still have that little clipped out recipe; I will share it with you.
Hickory Nut Cake
½ cup butter
1 ½ cups sugar
¾ cups water
2 cups flour
Three teaspoons baking powder
Four egg whites
1 cup chopped hickory nuts
Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Mix dry ingredients. Add flour and water alternately to sugar butter mixture. Beat egg whites until very stiff. Fold into mixture one-half of egg whites. Add nuts. Fold in remaining egg whites. Pour into a greased and floured cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
That’s the news from the homestead, see you next week.